Quirky design facts you didn't know about famed hotels

The Balmoral, Edinburgh

Originally opened in 1902 as the North British Station Hotel, The Balmoral Hotel in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh, boasts the prestigious address of Number 1 Princes Street, and – though guests would never notice – is situated directly above Edinburgh Waverly train station. Signifying the point where Edinburgh’s Old Town meets the New, the Balmoral’s unique location is not the only thing that makes this hotel a landmark.

The Balmoral’s stunning clock tower is a symbol of Edinburgh, and can be seen from almost every direction in the city; interestingly, the clock has always run two minutes fast – even to this day – to ensure that travellers don’t miss their trains. Known as a “love letter” to Scotland, the Balmoral is a significant monument in the heart of Edinburgh, watching over the city and making sure its inhabitants are always on time.

Fauchon L’Hotel Paris

Since its founding in 1886, Fauchon has been an archetype of French gourmet, and is one of Paris’ most iconic gastronomic luxury brands. With this in mind, it’s clear why the Fauchon L’Hotel in Paris focuses on the dining experiences it offers guests – in fact, the hotel was inspired by the brand’s wish to “house all Fauchon products and culinary experiences under one roof”. Radiating with unmatched Parisian style in all its spaces, Fauchon L’Hotel Paris is a pinnacle of grandeur, and almost a work of art in itself.

Bold and forward thinking, Fauchon L’Hotel Paris has found a new way of allowing guests to experience the brand’s world-renown patisserie from the comfort of their hotel rooms, with the introduction of the Fauchon Gourmet bar: a creative reimagining of the traditional mini bar. Created by French designer Sacha Lakic, from Roche Bobois, the custom designed rose-pink armoire features a metallic multi-faceted finish, and houses an assortment of Fauchon’s internationally-renowned Parisian delicacies for guests to sample throughout their stay.

The Waldorf Astoria, New York

Currently undergoing a large scale restoration that will see it reopen in 2022 with 375 luxury apartments in its towers, the Waldorf Astoria is arguably one of New York City’s most celebrated hotels. Everyone from British royalty to Golden Age celebrities has visited the Waldorf Astoria, and Its history is as interesting as the list of guests; originally it began as the Waldorf hotel, but when an even taller hotel was built next door in an act of one-upmanship, the two owners (who were cousins) agreed to a truce: the two buildings were connected and the Waldorf Astoria was born.

Several decades later, in 1931, the Waldorf Astoria was reopened on Park Avenue – still its current day location. Designed in the grand Art Deco style of the time, it was the largest and tallest hotel in the world for several years, and also set a list of global precedents: it was the first hotel with electricity on every floor, the first to have en-suite baths, and the first to offer 24-hour room service. Almost one hundred years later, the Waldorf Astoria remains a pinnacle of sophistication and elegance, and a unique part of New York City’s skyline.

Hotel Amigo, Brussels

One of the most opulent hotels in the historic city of Brussels, Hotel Amigo has been part of the Rocco Hotel group since 2000 – but the site’s history dates back hundreds of years, including being transformed into a prison by the city in 1522. Even the hotel’s name is centuries old; 16th-century Spanish soldiers are believed to have mistaken the word “vrunt”, meaning prison, for “vriend”, meaning friend, which overtime has become the hotel’s current name, Amigo.

In the 1950s, the Blaton family transformed the site and build the property that eventually became Hotel Amigo. Originally created to host the world's royalty, and nobility that visited the city for the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958, the Blaton family retained several of the original 17th flagstones, which remain to this day. The family’s legacy also lives on, as their collection of fine art and antiques is still on display in the hotel, featuring a range of awe-inspiring pieces including 18th-century Flemish tapestries and original Magritte works.

Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

Designed by renowned 20th-century architect Fyodor Lidval, the Hotel Astoria was built in 1911-1912. Over 100 years later, the elegant Art Nouveau hotel has remained the most famous hotel in St Petersburg, and is a key landmark in the heart of the city, sitting directly across from St Isaac’s Cathedral, and only a short walk away from Palace Square and the Mariinsky Theatre.

In 1941, however, the Hotel Astoria was transformed from a grand hotel into a hospital, following the outbreak of the Second World War. Thanks to the hotel’s location in the centre of the city, its rooms and various large spaces were utilised to treat those who were trapped in St Petersburg during the siege, including writers, artists and musicians.

Four Seasons Hotel, Hampshire

An hour from London, and close to several historic sites including Windsor Castle and Stonehenge, the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is set in a restored 18th-century manor house, surrounded by 500 acres of Dogmersfield Park. Celebrating the best of the quaint English countryside, the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire takes inspiration from its surroundings’ rich history, blending it with 21st century modernity to create a luxurious countryside retreat.

Not only does the manor house have a rich history, however, but Dogmersfield Park’s heritage reaches as far back as 1086, as it was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Centuries later, it was the site of Henry VIII’s first meeting with his future first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The old village of Dogmersfield also has an interesting story; previously it stood around the park’s Tundry Pond, but in the late 18th century the houses were dismantled and moved – allegedly because one of the residents of the manor, Lady Mildmay, didn’t like seeing the homes from her bedroom window!

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